We love our Ford Transit camper van. But we understand that when building out your own DIY camper van, there are so many different vehicles to choose from, like the popular Mercedes Sprinter & Dodge Promaster. And every vehicle has their pros and cons.
In this post, we will discuss why we decided to purchase a Ford Transit for our camper van conversion and why, after 2 years living in our van, we still LOVE our decision.
We also discuss the downsides of our Ford Transit at the end. So keep reading!
Why We Chose A Ford Transit Camper Van For Van Life
Tallest Interior Height Of All Commercial Vans
Of the three major commercial van brands, Ford Transits have the tallest internal height. Below are the internal height specs:
Why Is A Van's Internal Height Important?
Loss Of Height During Van Build
Larger Upper Cabinet Space
Since we wanted to maximize our storage space for clothes, food, and other important items, we built upper cabinets all throughout our van. A higher internal height allows us to build larger upper cabinets in order to maximize our storage.
More Livable In The Long Term
A higher internal height creates a more airy environment and reduces feelings of claustrophobia. This is especially important during times of bad weather and when we’re not physically traveling. Instead of renting apartments and Airbnbs, we were able to wait out the bad periods (and save money) in cheaper campsites.
In fact, we feel so strongly about being able to fully stand up in a campervan that we believe not selecting a high-roof vehicle is one of the biggest van life mistakes one can make when planning to live full time in a vehicle.
New Ford Transit's Are A Great Price
As we were in the market for a new vehicle, we felt that the price point for a Ford Transit was reasonable.
In total, we paid $36,729,92 at the dealership.
Compared to a standard Mercedes Sprinter, we paid $5,000 to $10,000 less for our comparable Ford Transit van.
We did a ton of research beforehand and learned a lot of dealership negotiation best practices along the way. Read more about it below.
Ford Ecoboost - Seriously Powerful Engine
One big reason for the Sprinter van’s popularity are their more powerful diesel engines.
However with the Ford ‘Ecoboost’ engine, which combines a turbocharger with direct fuel injection, we feel the power differences between our Ford Transit gas engine and the Sprinter’s diesel are minimal.
We’ve driven through some really steep and bumpy terrain on National Forest land in the US and all throughout Mexico without any problems. Zero.
The Ford Transit Ecoboost Engine is a champ.
Ford Transit Camper Vans Are Cheaper To Repair
One of the major advantages of the Ford Transit gas engine is that if anything went wrong, we could have our van serviced by most mechanics.
Not true with the diesel powered Sprinter van with their state-of-the-art digital sensors and controls. Have an engine issue? That Sprinter will likely have to be delivered to an authorized Sprinter repair shop and diesel-specific parts may need to be shipped in.
Sprinter repairs are notorious for being expensive.
We skipped all that hassle and potential costs by choosing a Ford Transit.
Ford Transit Camper Vans Don't Scream Luxury
So far in our travels, Ford Transits and the Ford logo are everywhere. They don’t scream expensive or luxury.
While we don’t believe we are fooling many would-be thieves from thinking that we are a standard commercial van, we also don’t believe we are an attention magnet either.
We’ve driven through small towns in Mexico and hardly get a second glance from most locals.
Ironically, we don’t believe in building a 100% stealth camper van, but we do enjoy flying under the radar with our Ford Transit.
A Gas Engine Is Better For The Pan-American Highway
Have dreams of traveling down the Pan-American highway in your own camper van?
Gas is the way to go.
Gas Is Cleaner
Diesel in Latin America is dirtier than in the US, Canada, and Europe. And with newer diesel vehicles, with sensitive filters and electronic controls, dirty diesel fuel can quickly create problems for the engine.
And we already mentioned that Sprinters are more expensive to repair.
The issue of dirty diesel fuel can be minimized by adding special additives to the fuel tank or tampering with the vehicle’s computer sensors (hello voided vehicle warranty!).
But, again, we decided to skip the hassle with our gas powered Ford Transit.
Gas is Everywhere
Have you ever seen a fuel station that doesn’t sell diesel? We have.
And remote areas along the Pan-American highway, like the Bolivian Altiplano or the Chilean Atacama Desert, getting fuel when we need it becomes critical.
Even in Mexico, not every fuel station sells diesel.
Going with a gas engine is peace of mine.
Downside Of Our Ford Transit Camper Van
Poor Vehicle Clearance
Compared to the Sprinter, the Ford Transit has a much lower clearance height to the ground.
Depending on where you measure, our ground clearance is:
- Minimum Front bumper clearance: 9.5″
- Rear Differential: 6.5″
- Exhaust Pipe: 9.5″
- Shocks: 5.5″
- Rear Bumper: 15″
With only 6.5″ clearance from our rear differential to the ground, we don’t have much space to work with when traveling on dirt roads.
So far, we’ve made it work on many of Latin America’s poor road conditions.
But we’ve come awfully close sometimes.
Longer Than We Need
Our Ford Transit is roughly 4″ longer than the comparable Mercedes Sprinter. And since we’ve been in some sticky parking situations before, I’m a huge believer now that every inch counts when driving in urban areas.
If the Ford Transit high-top camper van had a shorter length option, we would have purchased that instead.
Too Tall For A Shipping Container
At it stands, our Ford Transit (high top) is too tall to fit in a standard shipping container.
But both the Mercedes Sprinter and the Dodge Promaster are able to fit in. A major advantage in our opinion.
This reason may not be important for most readers, but because we are driving along the Pan-American route towards Argentina, we will need to ship our van from Panama to Colombia.
And if we cannot fit our vehicle in a standard shipping container, our only solution is to hand over the keys to stranger for them to drive onto the boat.
We hope you found this post helpful and inspiring! We love our Ford Transit camper van and are convinced you will do.
If you own a Ford Transit and felt like we left something out, please let us know! You can contact us through email or through the form below.
Thanks for reading!